And now for the not-so-highly anticipated sequel to A better me – part one…
- Were you honest?
- Did you leave a legacy?
- Did you devote time to study?
- Did you have hope in your heart?
- Did you get your priorities straight?
- Did you enjoy your life on earth?
- Were you the best you could be?
We pick up with number four, questioning the hope in our hearts. Nine times out of ten, my answer to this question is yes. But I have to admit that during certain situations that occurred this year, I let my glass sit half empty – for a long while. I know it’s impossible to be positive 100% of the time, but I’ve also learned that happiness depends largely upon attitude. Moping is part of being human, but it needs to be balanced with thoughts of hope and gratitude. For a while, I was doing a good job of keeping a gratitude journal. Like most other daily ventures, it eventually fell by the wayside, and I know better than to think I’ll keep up with it everyday; however, there is little excuse for not taking a few minutes every week to consciously think and write about the many blessings in my life.
The fifth question broke me. Tears streamed down my face as our Rabbi told us stories from 9/11, how even during the most catastrophic minutes remaining in their lives, the victims left messages of love on the voicemails of their families and friends. Having experienced profound loss relatively early in life, I do a pretty good job of saying, “I love you,” before hanging up the phone, getting on a plane, or parting from people who live far away. Still, life gets busy. Those who are most important to me often go months without much contact from me beyond the occasional FB message or “like.” As I reached for a tissue in my purse, trying to refrain from “ugly crying” in public, I wondered, if I were to not wake up tomorrow, would my loved ones know what’s in my heart? Then I began to wonder if that’s even possible. I’m not sure it is, but the important thing is to try. Priorities. So often I blog about making time to do things – blog more regularly, finish my novel, scrapbook, take classes – but none of that has meaning without the people in my life, both near and far. It all comes down to that annoying and seemingly unachievable word: balance. I have to do a better job of pressing pause on the DVR to answer the phone (telemarketers, this does not apply to you), be more timely with returning calls, send cards just because. At the end of the day, what I have done does not matter a fraction as much as who I have been fortunate to talk to.
Perhaps the question I could answer most satisfyingly was “Did you enjoy your life on earth?” I can answer this with a resounding yes. I can say – very honestly – that if I were to die tomorrow (G-d forbid), I would be okay with it. I wouldn’t be happy about it, mind you, but I could accept it. I have been so blessed by people and experiences alike that dying tomorrow would feel as though I had been given a condensed version of a long lifetime of good fortune. Despite living only a short while, I have lived life fully. That’s not to say that I don’t have a bucket list, though, and part of pondering this question is thinking about what we still want to accomplish (but that’s another post).
The last question is my favorite. As our Rabbi said, it gives you permission to stop comparing yourself to others and focus instead on striving to be the best version of who you are. He encouraged us to think about our vocations, relations, and ministrations as we attempt to answer this. It is a question I know I will continue to work on throughout my life, always striving to be better.
Thank you to my MIL (who has a big birthday today – happy birthday!) and Cheri for unknowingly encouraging me to complete this post through their emails.